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Thursday, September 1, 2011

Seven Vegan Recipes from Orissa on Ganesh Chaturthi

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Welcome to the second post in the state vegan recipe series! This time we bring you recipes of seven vegan dishes from the state of Orissa in east India. Similar to Bengal, Oriya vegetarian cuisine is mostly vegan and offers a large variety of dishes cooked in numerous styles. Each style represents a particular region in Orissa. We bring you a sample selection that particularly represents the coastal-cooking style of Orissa. The recipes have been contributed by Smt. Minati Mishra, resident of Keonjhar in Orissa. We are grateful to Smt. Mishra for sharing the recipes of these Oriya dishes that are not only easy to make but very tasty and nutritious too. The last dish on our menu is the “Chuda Ghasa”, a sweet creation that is offered to Lord Ganesha on Ganesh Chaturthi day. Chuda Ghasa is a concoction of nutritious ingredients that does not require any cooking, and therefore is a raw-vegan preparation!

As mentioned in our Bengal post, in all our recipes, we have used the cold-pressed versions of cooking oils obtained from organic stores and organically-grown raw ingredients to ensure that we are offering the healthiest food to our bodies. However, if you have difficulty procuring organically grown raw materials, please do not let that hinder your trial with the recipes.
The Recipes

1) Brinjal Paga (Brinjal Garnishing)

For four servings, you will need:
Brinjal – 5, as big as medium sized tomatoes
Tomato – 2, medium sized
Mustard oil – 1 tsp+
Onion – 1, medium sized
Garlic – 6-10, medium sized pods
Coriander leaves – As per need
Green chilli – 1-2, as per taste
Salt – As per taste

Preparation: Piece the brinjals into two longitudinal halves and tomatoes into four longitudinal parts. Heat 1 tsp mustard oil. Sauté the vegetables in high flame for 3-5 minutes or until they are 80% cooked. Remove from fire and keep covered for 20-30 minutes. Finely piece the onion, garlic, coriander leaves, and green chilli. Mash coarsely the sautéed brinjals and tomatoes, and add the finely pieced ingredients, salt, and a few drops of mustard oil as per the pungency you want. Brinjal Paga is ready to be served. Very similar in idea to the North Indian “Baigan ka Bharta”, Brinjal Paga is a dish that is relished across Orissa from the rural to the urban areas.

In fact, Paga can be prepared with different vegetables such as okra, ridge gourd, potato, and tomato. The okra and ridge gourd needs to be roasted while the potato and tomato needs to be boiled. The rest of the method is the same.

2) Mushroom Haldi Pani (Mushroom in Turmeric Water)

For three servings, you will need:
Mushroom – 200 gram, as available in one packet
Onion – 1, medium sized
Garlic – 6, medium sized pods
Mustard oil – 1 tsp+
Mustard seeds – ½ tsp
Turmeric – Two pinches
Salt – As per taste
Amchur powder or Tomato – 1 tsp or one small, respectively

Preparation: Piece the mushrooms and onions into small cubes. Crush the garlic. Heat 1 tsp mustard oil. Add mustard seeds and let them splutter. Add the onion, garlic, one pinch turmeric, salt, and mushrooms. Cover and sauté until all ingredients are soft. Add two cups of water and bring to boil. Add another pinch of turmeric and amchur powder (or finely chopped tomato). Boil for 5 minutes. Add a few drops of mustard oil as per taste and remove from fire. Mushroom Haldi Pani is ready. You can serve it either as a standalone soup, and/or with steamed rice or toasts to make a full meal. Mushroom Haldi Pani originates from the Puri district in Orissa.  

3) Saaga Mooga (Green Leaves in Green Gram de-skinned and split)

For four servings, you will need:
Drumstick or Methi (fenugreek) or Mooli (radish) leaves – Two bundles
Garlic – 6, medium sized pods
Moong dal – ¼ cup
Salt – As per taste
Mustard oil – 1 tbsp
Panch phoron – ½ tsp (Please check the Bengali vegan recipe post for notes on the panch phoron by clicking this link.) 
Green chilli – 1-2, as per taste

Preparation: Clean methi leaves and keep aside. Boil the moong dal with salt in a pressure cooker removing from fire just before the first whistle and keep aside. Heat mustard oil. Add panch phoron, crushed garlic, and green chilli. Add the methi leaves and cook until it is 75% done. Add the boiled moong dal and cook fully. Saaga Mooga is ready to be served. This dish is relished across Orissa. You can follow the same method of preparation using drumstick or radish leaves; however, the natives swear by the drumstick leaf preparation!

4) Chawala Chuna Bhaja (Shallow Fried Vegetables in Rice Powder)

For four servings, you will need:
Kantola – 5, medium sized
Turmeric – ½ tsp
Salt – As per taste
Any white oil – 2 tbsp
Rice + jeera + dry red chilli mix – 2 tbsp (In proportion of 50:25:25. You can make this mixture in a slightly larger quantity and store for at least 6 months.)

Preparation: Piece the kantola into thin disc-shaped slices. Steam kantola with turmeric and salt in half cup water until it is 50% cooked and keep aside. Soak and dry the rice (you can soak the rice and keep it to dry overnight). Coarsely grind the rice with roasted jeera and dry red chilli. Heat any white oil. Shallow-fry the kantola. Add the rice + jeera + dry red chilli mixture. Remove from fire when the preparation turns slightly red and the texture is crispy. Chawala Chuna Bhaja is ready. This dish represents the Puri-Bhubneswar style of cooking. Kantola can also be substituted with karela (bitter gourd).

5) Khatta (Translated means “sour”)

For five servings, you will need:
Tomato – 6, medium sized
Any white oil – 1 tbsp
Panch phoron – ½ tsp
Green chilli – 1
Dry red chilli – 1
Asafoetida – 1 pinch
Curry leaves – As per taste
Dates – 10
Green peas – ¼ cup
Jaggery – 100 grams

Preparation: Piece the tomatoes into medium-sized cubes and keep aside. Heat any white oil. Add panch phoron, green chilli, dry red chilli, asafoetida, and curry leaves. Add the tomato, dates, and green peas. Cook until all ingredients are soft. Add jaggery and cook until each ingredient has blended with the other. Add one cup water and simmer for 5 minutes. Khatta is ready to be served. Khatta is a universal phenomenon in Orissa.

6) Dalma (Oriya Dal)

For six servings, you will need:
Arbi (colocasia) – 4, medium sized
Potato – 1, medium sized
Parval (pointed gourd) – 2, medium sized
Barbati (long beans) – 4
Mooli (radish) – 1, medium sized
Raw banana – ½ of a medium sized one
Arhar (thoor) dal – ½ cup
Salt – As per taste
Turmeric – ½ tsp
Grated fresh coconut – 3 tbsp or as per taste
Any white oil – 1 tbsp
Jeera – ½ tsp
Dry red chilli – 1

Preparation: Piece the vegetables: arbi, potato, parval, barbati, mooli, and raw banana in long, big parts. Pressure cook the vegetables with arhar dal, salt, and turmeric with 2 whistles. Keep until all the steam is out. Add the grated coconut into the pressure cooker and keep aside. Heat any white oil. Add jeera and dry red chilli. Let them splutter. Add the boiled vegetables and dal. Dalma is ready to be served. Dalma is the traditional Oriya dal recipe. You can include kathal (jackfruit) too.

7) Chuda Ghasa (Powdered Rice Flakes Mixture)

You will need:
Rice flakes – 1 kg, thick variety
Grated fresh coconut – 2, big sized
Powdered jaggery – ½ kg
Camphor – 1 pinch
Cardamom – 2
Black pepper – 8

Preparation: Coarsely grind the rice flakes and add the following ingredients to it: grated fresh coconut, powdered jaggery, and camphor. Mix, rubbing all ingredients together until you get a homogenous consistency, or until you can no longer tell individual ingredients apart. Coarsely powder the cardamom and black pepper and lightly add them to the mixture. Chuda Ghasa is ready. Chuda Ghasa is a preparation that originates from the coastal area of Orissa. Traditionally, preparing Chuda Ghasa is a community activity where women sit around banana leaves mixing the concoction to perfection. It is made in large quantities and offered to the Gods because the preparation is raw or uncooked and nutritious as well. Chuda Ghasa is offered to Lord Ganesha on this holy day in Orissa.

Happy Ganesh Chaturthi, Everyone!

“Humanity’s true moral test, its fundamental test, consists of its attitude towards those who are at its mercy: animals. And in this respect humankind has suffered a fundamental debacle, a debacle so fundamental that all others stem from it.” ~Milan Kundera, Author, The Unbearable Lightness of Being~

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